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Istanbul’s Daughter, İzmir’s Sister Thessal
HOSTING CIVILIZATIONS AND PEOPLES LIKE THE ROMAN, BYZANTINE AND OTTOMAN, THESSALONIKI IS A MAGICAL CITY WITH ITS CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL RICHNESS AND BAY VIEW.
One of the oldest cities in history, Thessaloniki was founded by the king of Macedonia in 315 B.C. and named for the daughter of Alexander the Great.
In contrast with Athens’ masculine associations with war and diplomacy, as befits her name Thessaloniki appears to us in the image of a beautiful young girl around whose neck the curve of the bay, viewed from the opposite shore, seems to sit like a fine necklace. In the words of the famous Thessaloniki novelist Despina Pandazis, the city is a daughter to Istanbul and a sister to Izmir, and consequently no stranger to us Turks with a waterfront esplanade like Izmir’s and a Hagia Sophia and Yedikule fortress like Istanbul’s.
FROM THE SEVEN TOWERS TO THE WHITE TOWER
If you look to the left from Yedikule, which is situated at a point dominating the city, you see the sea below, a long narrow headland with a White Tower in the center, and at the far right the harbor. The houses with hanging gardens and squares with mulberry, olive and plane trees at the foot of the walls that surround the fortress make up the part of the city that is protected against new construction.
Viewed from the upper city, the bay draws a person in. Probably the first structure to attract the attention of every visitor who makes a brief jaunt around the city is the White Tower or Lefkos Pirgos, which rises on the coastal strip like a beacon landmark. The tower and its environs is also one of the areas with the most fashionable cafes and restaurants.
And watching the sunset against the backdrop of Mount Olympus from a park or path in front of the tower is a traditional Thessaloniki pastime. If we were to remove the tower from the picture, the view would recall an evening stroll along the Kordon in Izmir. It’s worth seeing the Thessaloniki coast just for a view this famed mountain of Greek mythology.
As we delve into the heart of the city, the first thing we see, and one of the most important places to tour, is the Archaeology Museum. Commanding attention for its magnificent architecture, Thessaloniki’s Archaeology Museum is a rich museum where you will enjoy following Greek history and its technological infrastructure and appurtenances.
For history buffs there are other museums in Thessaloniki as well, such as the New Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Jewish Museum, the Folklife - Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Musical Instruments.
Ataturk’s house heads the list of buildings to see in Thessaloniki. Located at Apostolou Pavlu Street 75 in Hagia Dimitriou, in the same quarter as the Turkish Consulate, this house is open to visitors.
For those who want to do some shopping before concluding a pleasant trip, Aristotle Square, which opens onto Egnatia Street, is the ideal place. This square and the area around it has everything from bars and cafes to shopping centers, bookstores, banks and hotels.
Just a few blocks away is a highly recommended shop selling gum Arabic products where you can find numerous items including edibles, hand cream and shampoo made from the substance. No doubt you’ll leave with a few picture postcards and some attractive photos so you can remember the city and share it with your friends.